Tapping my fingers on my palms, I brought up our group’s location. Daniel and Izzy’s location came up as “Unknown”—which didn’t necessarily mean that they were dead. It could mean that the bomb had kicked out enough of an EMP that it killed their comms.
For that matter, if their signal came through, I realized, it didn’t necessarily mean that they were alive.
The thought that I needed to include people’s health in the next iteration didn’t distract me enough. I was still aware that Izzy and Daniel might both be dead or near to it.
The bombs weren’t nuclear, but they obviously included materials that I wasn’t familiar with. Even if they were only briefly radioactive or poisonous, they could still kill.
Then Daniel and Izzy’s status flickered from red to green. A good sign.
Not only that, but I could see from the GPS that they were moving in excess of 400 mph towards us. This was better yet.
Well, unless it meant that Izzy was carrying Daniel’s body. He could stop bullets with telekinesis, but not fire or heat.
I didn’t have long to wonder though. Izzy appeared, carrying Daniel, silhouetted against the backdrop of the city and the fire that still burned behind them.
With Izzy’s speed, I didn’t even have time to register that I’d seen them before I felt Daniel’s mind.
I’m not dead, he thought at me, but it was a near thing. Izzy had barely stopped poking holes in the bomb when I sensed it would blow.
I got an image of a backroom filled with computers, and saw a grey disc lying in the corner. Izzy pulled her hand away, and five other people, all of them in costume, backed up.
I wondered what had happened to the others, and heard Izzy’s voice in my head.
They all died.
With the added dimension of direct mental contact, I could hear her think it with a touch of disbelief. I could also feel the torrent of emotions behind what she’d said—shock that it had happened so quickly, guilt that she hadn’t been able to stop it, fear that it had killed more people than we knew, and hope that it hadn’t.
Daniel filtered his own emotions better, but we’d spent so much time in each other’s heads over the years that I went past his shield before either of us knew it. I felt his relief at not dying, and sadness for the others. He’d felt them go.
I felt them secondhand—a jumble of thoughts, terror, and fiery pain.
The flames had surrounded him too, but he’d warned Izzy. She’d grabbed him before the blast threw them away. The flame didn’t reach them. I sensed heat, but no pain.
By then the others’ consciousness had been completely annihilated.
It also confirmed what I’d suspected before—Izzy wasn’t physically invulnerable. She generated some kind of shield unconsciously, and when she’d pulled Daniel close, it included him.
I wondered how far out she could make it go. Theoretically, she might have saved them all.
Keep that quiet, okay? She doesn’t need to hear it right now.
From a distance, Izzy’s presence said, I didn’t catch that. Are you talking to me?
Daniel and I said, Sorry, we didn’t mean to leave you out simultaneously, and with exactly the same tone and inflection.
That’s when we ended the connection, and I became aware of myself again. I floated above the ground, descending toward everyone else. Izzy and Daniel had already landed.
I hit the ground seconds later, and not all that hard.
Haley’s voice came over the comm. “Is everyone down? I’m just about to start shooting.”
“Everyone but Ghost,” Cassie said.
I probably should have said something, but after what I’d just seen, I still felt out of it.
“I’ll be fine.” Rachel’s voice came across the comm distantly, and with a maximum of static.
“If you’re sure,” Haley said. “Just, be careful, okay? I’m starting… Now.”
In the sky, thin lines of light crossed upward from the jet to the tornado. Small objects exploded, raining glowing, reddish bits on the city below.
It was easy. I’d been overly cautious. I’d been wrong about the bombs. I should have skipped the roachbot tracking devices. I could have blown the bombs up on the ground all at once and saved us a lot of work.
Haley and the jet’s lasers made it to number nine without an explosion, but on number nine, the sky turned white. I’d thought the one that Izzy damaged had been bright, but I didn’t have anything to compare it with. This explosion filled the sky as far as the helmet let me see, and triggered the last two bombs almost simultaneously.
The three chained explosions blew the howling tornado apart. Even though Vaughn had directed the tornado and the bombs as high as he could, I still felt heat. The suit suppressed the noise of the blasts, but I still heard them.
All the same, it wasn’t long before the brightness faded, the pre-dawn sky turned back to darkness.
Over the comm, Haley laughed nervously as she said, “Thank God, it’s over.”
None of us had any idea what would come next.